(This post is from my memorizing efforts in Deuteronomy chapter 4-10)
Taking the time to Evaluate (and getting more mindful in our walk)
A few years ago, I read two books in a relatively short period of time that rocked me. It wasn’t in a bad way that I was shaken. It was more like a revelation. It was a positive thing.
One book was by Brad Gilbert, a former professional tennis player. Brad was known on the pro circuit for not being the most talented tennis player, but one of the smartest. His mental game was legendary.
In his book, he frequently talked about various strategies or skills. He would go on to explain how the pros would deal with this strategy or skill, and then he would go on to say that the “everyday player” (or the “weekend player”) normally would deal with this skill or strategy in a completely different kind of way.
For example, professional players are very mindful on where they want to hit the ball on the court, with what pace, and with what spin (if any). However, the everyday player is not that focused. More often than not, they just slap the ball back over the net without giving much thought on how they are hitting the ball, why, or where.
The other book I read was by Butch Harmon. This book was about golf. One thing that was interesting to me was the repeating of the same issue of focus. Again, whereas a golf pro will plan on hitting his ball to a very specific area on the fairway or green, the casual golfer pays little attention to his swing or where he wants to hit the ball. As an example of this, check out this story about Tiger Woods and “hitting a spot the size of a dime”
My point in telling these two examples is to bring out the issue of focus.
Every day, casual golfers and tennis players don’t really pay much
attention to improving their performance, and are not too committed to improving their skills and taking their game to the next level.
What’s interesting to me is that many Christians live out their Christian faith in a similar, non-committed kind of way. Like everyday sports players, they kind of just do it, but rarely get focused on how they could specifically improve their walk with God
The Apostle Paul tells the believers in Philippi to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling”. Our growth in the Christian faith will not just happen. You and I need to work at it. So what does that entail?
Being disciplined is definitely a part of our walk. We need to consistently do the activities that are going to help us get stronger in our faith and avoid those things that will weaken our faith. Reading the Bible to gain a better understanding of who God is and the wisdom of His ways is huge. Learning how to pray and consistently doing it is a must, along with worship, and giving.
One other discipline that is also of importance, but rarely talked about is that of being mindful. It has to do with evaluating how our walk is going. It has to do with being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His communicating with us when we are starting to be drawn away by something.
In another excellent book I’ve read called Prayer Altars, the authors make a
point to talk about the altar of worship in the Old Testament. One aspect that was talked about, which was very insightful was the importance of maintaining the fire for offering their sacrifices. It was important to regularly remove the ashes and bring more wood to keep the fire hot.
The application from this teaching is for us to be mindful of
keeping our fire going. It means asking the Holy Spirit if there is any area of sin and temptations creeping in, which left unattended would only put out our fire.
If we practiced this discipline consistently of taking time to evaluate our walk on how we are doing, where we need to be careful, and where we can improve, we would dramatically see growth in our spiritual walk. Please keep in mind that the spiritual walk I am describing is not doctrinal knowledge. It is the “fruit of the Spirit”, revealed in very tangible ways.
We wouldn’t wake up one day to realize we are 100 pounds overweight. We wouldn’t realize one day that all of the flirting we’ve done with a work colleague has resulted in having an affair. It wouldn’t result in one day recognizing that we have not read the Bible or really taken time to pray in over 1 month, or 2, or longer.
Here are some relevant verses from chapters, 4-10 in the Book of Deuteronomy about the need to evaluate our walk (capital letters have been added). I am going to limit my comments regarding each of these verses because my hope is that you will take the time to read them yourself and meditate on their meaning and application in your life:
4:9 ONLY GIVE HEED TO YOURSELF AND KEEP YOUR SOUL DILIGENTLY -The Israelites
were told (and we should also be mindful) that they shouldn’t forget things
they’ve seen in their history with God, or let them depart from their hearts, and they were to make their experiences and learning known to their sons, and grandsons
4:10 – REMEMBER when God appeared at Mt. Horeb ——the things that have
happened to us in the past can instruct us, so that we continue on in the future doing things that turned out well and avoid those things that resulted in regrets and mistakes.
4:15 -WATCH YOURSELF CLOSELY.so that you don’t act corruptly
4:19 – BEWARE that you don’t worship and serve other things as gods (what are the gods in our life?)
4:23- WATCH YOURSELF that you don’t forget the covenant God made with the
Israelites and make an image of some created false god
4:39 TAKE IT TO YOUR HEART, all that God has done for you (what has God done for you?)
6:3 LISTEN to the statutes and commandments and BE CAREFUL to do them
7:25 YOU ARE TO DESTROY graven images BURNING them with fire and you
shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or else you will be snared by it (for it is abomination to The Lord your God)—how tolerant am I, are you to things we know are not pleasing to God?)
7:26 – you shall not bring an abomination into your house, but shall UTTERLY
DETEST AND DESTROY it
8:1 you shall BE CAREFUL to do all the commandments which I am commanding you today
8:2- YOU SHALL REMEMBER all the way which The Lord your God as led you in the wilderness these 40 years
8:11-17 – we need to BEWARE that we DO NOT FORGET The Lord, your God by not
keeping His commandments and His ordinance, and His statutes (otherwise our
heart will become proud when we are enjoying His many blessings. WE NEED TO BE REMEMBERING that it was God who brought us through the great and terrible
wilderness and provided for our physical needs. Otherwise we may think that the blessings we are enjoying are because of our own efforts and abilities—how often do you really thank God for the blessings He has poured out in your life?
8:18 – YOU SHALL REMEMBER The Lord your God for it is He who gives us the
power to make wealth
9:4-6 WE ARE TO FULLY UNDERSTAND that when God blesses us, it is not because of our righteousness, because who we are by nature is a stiff-necked people
9:7 WE ARE TO REMEMBER and NEVER FORGET how you aroused the anger of The
Lord your God by our rebelliousness
As you consider these verses that were given to the Israelites in the Old Testament, think about their application for you. Christian, you will never regret the effort you put in to being more “mindful” in your walk with God.